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On November 8 2017, SAP Labs Montreal hosted their “One Montreal” All Hands meeting, which brought Sales, Development, & Partner Service Delivery teams together to share updates in their lines of business. Breaking down silos & collaborating is something SAP Montreal is expertly familiar with (just see how our Labs & Field teams collaborated with academia & the retail footwear giant Aldo shoes in the Aldo Innovation Challenge!); we used the All Hands meeting as an occasion to celebrate our successes, share insights, & build momentum to ensure all lines of business work together to achieve our goals in 2018.  More importantly, however, we used it as an opportunity to learn from the experiences of a man accustomed to performing at peak levels & overcoming relentless adversity in ever-changing landscapes: Sébastien Sasseville.

Sasseville put his body & mind to the test by climbing Mount Everest, running the grueling Marathon des Sables in the Sahara Desert, & completing a 7,500 km run across Canada. Sébastien is the personification of what it means to be determined; he accomplished all this with type 1 diabetes. Not only have these monumental feats of physical & mental endurance conditioned him to thrive under exceptionally challenging circumstances, they have taught him that mental strength—the sheer will to continue down the path of most resistance—can yield inimitable, extraordinary results.

 

On top of the world. Sebastien & his team at the peak of Mount Everest

 

With challenges comes suffering, but that short-term discomfort helps one achieve more than they ever thought possible. Sébastien harnesses the power of what he calls “consented adversity” to achieve what others believe is impossible. Rather than boast of his exceptional accomplishments, however, Sasseville has a different outlook. “I have climbed Everest, but who cares?”. He reminds us that it’s not what was accomplished that is special, rather, why one decides to undertake such grueling challenges in the first place is what resonates with the public. Sébastien’s mission was to have an impact by showing anyone suffering from a potentially debilitating illness that they don’t need to be held back or defined by their condition; his most cherished accomplishment is empowering them to pursue their dreams, & to dream big.

Throughout each of his achievements, Sébastien noticed that they all had three things in common: First, they begin with having the courage to dream big. The second essential component in realizing your dreams is committing to the task by taking the first stepLastly, you must harness unyielding internal determination to see your dream through to completion.

Much like a climbing a mountain, software’s continuous development cycle rarely provides a distinct end-point, & has its fair share of setbacks. Drawing parallels from Sasseville’s experiences, we learn that challenges & adversity truly make us & our product offerings stronger.

As innovators in the deeply competitive tech industry, we are—and should be—comfortable with change, disruption and adversity. Adversity leads to growth, and when teams consistently challenge themselves and work towards a common mission—they have the power to elevate one another and achieve the incredible. Dream big and relentlessly pursue turning those dreams into a reality.

 

Collaborate. Elevate. Innovate. Together, we can make the world run better.

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